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Q&A: Marilyn Manson

On jamming with Johnny Depp, tackling Shakespeare, and weird rumors he’s heard about himself

Austin Scaggs Jun 27, 2012
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Marilyn Mason

Marilyn Mason

Two years ago, Marilyn Manson broke up with actress Evan Rachel Wood, put all his belongings in storage and moved to a new house in West Hollywood. “I ended up living alone for the first time since . . . my whole life,” says Manson, 43. “I realized that less is more. The less you have to work with, the more powerful you need to make the stuff you’re saying.” That philosophy bled into Manson’s eighth album, Born Villain, featuring his most visceral, provocative tunes in years. “I’ve allowed myself to let my subconscious and unconscious mind rule the show,” he says. “This is the time for me to be back, doing what I do best, and that’s being Marilyn Manson.”

Johnny Depp plays on your new cover of “You’re So Vain.” How the hell did that happen?

Johnny called me and asked if I wanted to record a song, so I went to his studio and we started playing the blues. My record was already finished, but we both thought it would be ironic to put “You’re So Vain” on the album. Johnny played drums and lead guitar ”“ when he’s done with his movie, I’ll have to fight him off from being in my band.

Wait, did you just say you were playing the blues?

Yeah! We were just jamming, which is a word I’ve always hated. I think we started with “The Thrill Is Gone” ”“ his idea. And it was cool. The past year, I’ve been learning how to play guitar more.

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What do you practice playing?

The bands I listened to before I started Marilyn Manson:Bowie, Revolting Cocks, inistry, the Beatles.

You’re 43 now. Any plans to become a dad?

I can’t imagine what it’s like to have a kid. It would be interesting to have a small version of me to cause problems ”“ a version 2.0.

I’m sure any kid of yours would be a perfect angel.

I would try and confuse him into being as bad or worse than I am. It would be my duty.

Born Villain feels different from your last few albums. Why?

On the last two records, I was trying to force people into feeling my emotions. And I felt like shit, so that was a really stupid idea. This record is more like jazz or punk rock or dada. I wanted to take what I knew how to do and do it in a way that makes people confused. You can’t be shocking, you can only create chaos ”“ and confusion is the best form of communication. That’s the bottom line.

Why were you so bummed before?

Stupid relationships, stupid situations. One of them was Interscope Records, which I got out of.

Did you have mixed feelings about leaving the label after 15 years?

Fuck, no! I wanted to get out of that for many years. It was probably not a wise choice telling Jimmy Iovine that I didn’t think he was smart enough to understand what I was doing. Mostly I was frustrated with what they did to my art after I created it.

You recite Macbeth’s famous “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” soliloquy on “Overneath the Path of Misery.” What’s up with that?

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You know why I did it? No reason at all. I just got “No Reason” tattooed on my wrist. You know why? No reason.

Macbeth is basically saying that life is bullshit ”“ “a tale told by an idiot.” Do you agree?

It can be interpreted as a depressing statement, or as a somewhat liberating or redeeming statement. I wanted to make it whatever people want to hear it as.

 You’re known as a big fan of the television show Eastbound & Down. Do you relate to Kenny Powers?

Sure. He’s like a dog who shits on the floor, but you always rub him on his head and expect that he’ll stop shitting on the floor. Just like me.

 I read online that you’re marrying someone named Seraphim?

I don’t even know who the fuck that is!

 I also read a rumor that you were dating Lana Del Rey.

At least that one seemed like I had good taste. And I do.

 Do the rumors amuse you?

Yeah. It’s the same as back in the day, when I removed my ribs and I was the kid on The Wonder Years. It comes with the job.

 But I did see you rubbing up on Taylor Momsen onstage. That one’s true, right?

Yeah, the young girls again. When we were planning a tour, her band, Pretty Reckless, was one of the options as an opening act. I thought, “What better choice than someone who just turned 18?”

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